My husband and I spent the first two years of parenthood over a thousand miles away from everyone and everything we grew up with. We were on our own during those years and I think it’s given us a real appreciation of how much help we have today. After my dad retired, my parents starting coming up north for a month or so during my mom’s summer teaching vacation.

Now that my mom has retired, we have my parents just a short walk across the street for over half the year. They help with drop offs, pickups, groceries, cooking, babysitting, errands, house projects and more. My mom baths, rocks, feeds, calms, loves, teaches, nurtures and pretty much any other mother or grandmother verbs you could think of. Well maybe not all. She doesn’t yell and lose her cool like I tend to do. She’s a calming positive influence on my parenting. She reminds me (only when I vent) that my daughter needs love and lots of it. My daughter’s anger will not be quelled with more anger. In this power struggle, no one will win. I must model the patience and kindness that I wish for her to cultivate.

When my husband works nights or is traveling, my mom and I fall right into our routine. She’s there to help and knows what’s needed and when to let me do my thing. It’s not the same as having my husband around, but it works very well. Now after two weeks of him being away, she and I are tired. We joke about a vacation for just the two of us. This isn’t the kind of thing that my mom and I would probably really do, or have done before, but I’m starting to think we should look into it. Just as spouses fall into parenting routines that become all business, I think I tend to fall into the rut with my mom too. What’s for dinner, we need to get this one here by that time for this thing and the other one is tired, let’s get her to bed early . . . blah, blah, blah.

I have friends who don’t have the mother figure and help available – it could be that they lost their mother long ago, don’t have a relationship with her or are caring for her and their children at the same time. I know I am so, so lucky and so are my girls. I want to make sure my mom knows just how much she means to us and how much we appreciate and love her. From making cupcakes decorated like fish to building a huge sand table in our backyard, this grandma is rocking it. Thanks mom for all you do and all the love you give us!